A blast that occurred due to the leakage of a flammable gas at a plant owned by Hebei Shenghua Chemical Industry, a subsidiary of ChemChina, has claimed the lives of 23 people.
The blast took place at a loading area next to the plant located in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province and also left 22 people injured, Reuters quoted ChemChina as saying.
Polyvinyl chloride, which is made at the facility, had leaked during production. It caught fire, leading to a chain explosion, in which 38 trucks and 12 passenger cars were destroyed.
ChemChina said in a statement posted on its website that the incident reflected serious problems in the company’s safety management systems.
Xinhua News Agency reported that following the explosion, the National Administration for Work Safety Emergency Response is set to launch an inspection of all large-scale chemical plants.
According to an official at the city government propaganda department, an investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of the incident.
As suspected by investigators, a truck carrying ethane, a highly flammable compound meant for another nearby chemical factory, exploded while passing the Shenghua plant.
Following the blast, the flames also spread to other trucks.
In August 2015, the explosion of a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin claimed the lives of 165 people.
At that time, the government revealed that improperly or illegally stored hazardous materials were the main cause of the disaster.